Tag Archives: Community Education Council

Parents say school rezoning puts kids in danger

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Maps courtesy of the Department of Education

Parents say a District 24 rezoning proposal has crossed the lines.

The Division of Portfolio Planning in the city’s education department presented a rezoning draft, which targets overcrowding, at the Community Education Council (CEC) D24 meeting at P.S. 305 on September 12. But following an incident in which an SUV jumped the curb on Grand Avenue and injured five students, the plan drew heavy backlash from parents in attendance because some students will have to cross dangerous intersections.

Based on the plans, students would have to cross Queens Boulevard, the so-called “Boulevard of Death,” to get to P.S. 229 from the newly expanded northern area. Also, some children that formerly would be zoned for P.S. 229 will be instead moved to P.S. 153, which may force them to cross the Long Island Expressway via Maurice Avenue.

“You can’t even drive down Maurice Avenue, how are [children] going to walk,” said Sinead McGillen, a parent from P.S. 229. “Just leave us alone, we are happy where we are.”

The proposal will adjust zones based on neighborhood populations, and representatives from Portfolio Planning said they are confident every school will see reductions in congestion in future years.

“It’s definitely going to lower overcrowding,” said CEC D24 president Nick Comaianni. “Is it going to be enough? That’s yet to be seen. In my 10 years as president it’s never been enough. You build it, and it gets filled up.”

The zone changes would only affect incoming kindergarten students in the 2014-2015 school year, meaning that current students won’t change schools. Representatives of Portfolio Planning said they are also considering allowing siblings to stay in the same schools if there is space.

The plan was introduced to the parents for their feedback.

Portfolio Planning staffers took note of the troubled streets parents brought up during the meeting and they plan to reconfigure the proposal and meet with the CEC again on September 24.

LIE Crossing PS 153





Parents vote down school ‘Choice’ in District 27

| mchan@queenscourier.com

A unanimous vote overwhelmingly turned down one city proposal that would switch up the middle school enrollment process within District 27.

Following a 7-0 vote, board members of the district’s Community Education Council (CEC) defeated the city Department of Education’s (DOE) “Middle School Choice” plan, which would have allowed students to apply to attend almost any middle school in the district.

“From the very beginning, ‘Middle School Choice’ was a severely misguided attempt to address the issue of middle school enrollment in District 27, which would have resulted in a very confusing process that parents clearly did not understand or want,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, a staunch advocate throughout the proposal’s community input phase.

DOE and District 27 CEC officials had discussed the possibility of implementing “Middle School Choice” for the district, which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Broad Channel, Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park, Far Rockaway and parts of Jamaica, back in October 2011.

Under the plan, students would be eligible to attend better schools outside of their zoned residential areas, and DOE officials said the program would provide students and parents with more educational options.

While the ‘Choice’ proposal stated that zoned students would still have first priority for admission to their zoned middle schools, it had garnered much opposition throughout the affected southern Queens communities — especially from parents who were worried their children would lose seats in their zoned schools.

“I want to thank the CEC members for casting their votes according to the will of the parents they represent. They showed tremendous courage in standing up to the DOE bureaucrats who sought to impose this mandate on our district,” Ulrich said.

New Woodside school to ease overcrowding

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The city is using several empty lots to ensure students in one of New York’s most congested school districts don’t get lost in the “crowd.”

Due to collaboration between the Department of Education (DOE), School Construction Authority (SCA) and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the city plans to purchase a cluster of land in Woodside to construct a new elementary school– easing overcrowding in school District 30 by creating roughly 430 new seats.

“I have been looking for a school in that area since I started at the Community Education Council (CEC) nine years ago. This decision is huge,” said Jeff Guyton, co-president of CEC District 30. “We are growing big time in Sunnyside and Woodside, and we are very successful. We have great schools and great leadership in the district, and it is a big thing to put another school in this area that is overcrowded.”

Van Bramer, prompted by the situation at P.S. 11, an elementary school in the area currently operating at 117 percent capacity, has worked with the SCA to address the overcrowding issues in Sunnyside and Woodside.

“This agreement comes at a time when CEC 30 is in the midst of some of the worst overcrowding in the city of New York,” said Van Bramer. “Today’s announcement shows a commitment by both the SCA and the DOE to address this problem in our district. This agreement will not only give our children the adequate space that is needed to learn, but will also alleviate the strain that has been put on schools in the surrounding area.”

Local elected officials echoed the councilmember, emphasizing the negative effect overcrowding can have on education.

“No child should have to fight for a desk, school supplies or the attention of their teachers,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “There is no question Queens is in need of new and better school facilities and today’s announcement is a step forward in addressing the needs of Woodside students. But our efforts must continue, and I will keep fighting in Congress to ensure that schools in Queens receive their fair share of federal funds and that the education of our children comes first.”

Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2013, and the new school is expected to open in September of 2015.

Despite the major boost the new school will provide the area, Guyton believes more measures are necessary if the problem of overcrowding is to be solved.

“Woodside and Sunnyside have been needing help for a long time,” he said. “But we need help in Jackson Heights also. We are still looking for options in Jackson Heights, which is our most intense area of overcrowding.”